little condition in which tourists to the holy city
start to believe they are biblical characters
, or of biblical importance
. About 100 people a year get this disorder
, with about 40 actually needing hospitalization
. Currently, all patients go to Dr. Yair Bar-El at Jerusalem's psychiatric hospital Kfar Shaul
. An example
"One of Dr. Bar-El's patients was a school teacher from Cincinnati. This man began showing symptoms of Jerusalem Syndrome after his visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem. After he had been in the city for about two days, he began washing vigorously to purify himself. He used his hotel bed sheets to create a robe which he wore and finally went out onto the streets and began to shout psalms. Eventually, the teacher was given a few tranquilizers, re-established contact with reality with a few phone calls home and regained his normal personality."
If they are lucky, victims of Jerusalem Syndrome will come back to reality after a week, and suffer no more than a vague memory and some embarrasment at their actions. If they are unlucky, they will do something stupid, like when an Australian tourist set fire to the al-Aska Mosque on the Temple Mount in 1969, and set off riots around the world. And if they're really lucky, sometimes they'll actually attract some believers, and start their own cult.
Dr. Bar-el attracted a small amount of attention in 1999 when he worried that the millenium celebrations in Jerusalem would result in thousands of cases of the disorder. If it did, I haven't heard of it.
None of my sources said whether pointing and laughing was considered an effective treatment for Jerusalem Syndrome.
Most of this information was taken from www.jerusalemsyndrome.com, which has a page full of other amusing examples. There was also some information at www.double-cross.com